Turning on the TV today, one would think that videogames are the root of all evil in the world. The news media has deemed gaming the cause of such social ills as theft, vandalism and even murder. From pre-teens throwing rocks at cars in Florida, to mentally disturbed high-school students killing their classmates in Colorado, the news media has continued to ignore the concept of personal responsibility and look towards the gaming industry as an easy target to invoke “outrage”.
While the demonization of the industry has been par for the course when it comes to the media, the fact is there is at least one enormous aspect of gaming that continues to be overlooked. Gaming continues to bring people together like no other medium can. It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, white, black, purple, rich, poor, gay, straight, the fact is we’re all just a bunch of dorks who like to game. Whether you are trying to save the world, score the game winning touchdown in the Superbowl or roll a big ball of stuff around, (do not even get me going on Katamari Damacy) when it comes to games we are nothing more than users on a system.
One may make the point that if we are nothing more than users, how can videogames be bringing us together? The answer to that is simple. Just look around, message boards filled with gamers from all over the world, different ethnicities, religious/political beliefs coming together to do nothing but talk about a hobby that they all enjoy as equals, a place where only your knowledge and skill separate you. This is just the beginning. Gamers continue to clamor for online gaming in all aspects of the industry, from MMORPGs, to downloadable content, to real-time voice chatting as you prepare to frag someone. In the coming years the online gaming community will continue to grow, bringing together previous cultures and socio-economic groups that would never have crossed paths before (unless of course you are forced to stand next to each other in a Department of Motor Vehicles line).
Not only that but with the fact that women continue to be the fastest growing portion of the online community, makes it only a matter of time until it is commonplace to find that the individual standing over your freshly killed online persona taunting you is your sister, or worse yet your mother,..or exponentially worse, your wife. Lets face it, when was the last time you spent any quality time with your family that didn’t involve your aunt Martha and a stuffed turkey? That’s the great part about the direction gaming is taking. Every generation of gamers are getting older and many are having children of their own, so it is quite conceivable when Halo 7 makes it to stores you’ll be dealing with teams of families out on the field of battle. (Watch out for team Mravlja!)
Unfortunately things are not perfect in Online Land, you still get your bigoted morons who can’t get over the fact that some player’s epidermal layers may have a little more or less pigment in them than their own. Or that someone’s English may not be up to his or her level but for the most part they are the vast minority. But these problems will become fewer and fewer with such things as online gaming becoming more and more prevalent in our society, in which normally sheltered individuals will be able to get out and interact with a world they know little about.
The next time you hear a report on how gaming is causing mass violence and hooliganism, laugh it off. Be confident that for as many awful things the media wants you to believe about gaming there are just as many good things that gaming and gamers are creating or at least laying the groundwork for in our world.